Welcome back speculators! Today's article comes from what I saw dealers selling (or not selling) on the floor of the latest Modern Grand Prix in Richmond.
GP Richmond had around 4300 participants and had to be split into two separate halls. The main hall had all the vendors, whereas the other hall (where I ended up) had no card vendors (though SCG set up a booth to sell sleeves, mats, etc.) This meant that I didn't have as much time as I'd have liked to peruse vendor displays, but there were definitely cards that were very hot.
Hottest Modern Cards
Word in the hall was that someone went around buying all the Birthing Pods (which used to be $10-12), causing the average price in the hall to be closer to $25 leading up to the event. Melira Pod's recent success on the PT gave this buyout some weight, though I don't think the new price will stick. Although it is up almost 80% in the past two weeks (averaging $18).
[cardimage cardname='Birthing Pod'][cardimage cardname='Melira, Sylvok Outcast']
Other Cards to Pick up - With the jump in Melira Pod decks, other good targets include Reveillark (sitting at a low $3); Ethersworn Canonist (while only a two-of in the sideboard it is a tutorable answer to Storm that also has potential in other sideboards); and Scavenging Ooze--another sideboard card, but one that saw play in many other major decks. While the M14 reprint did kill the old value (close to $40) the banning of Deathrite Shaman made graveyard-centric strategies strong choices.
[cardimage cardname='Reveillark'][cardimage cardname='Ethersworn Canonist']
This saw play in the Ad Nauseam combo deck, killing many Spellskites and maybe even a few Gaddock Teegs or Ethersworn Canonists. I heard people asking for it over and over, while perusing dealer booths, but none of them had it. The current buy-in is around $2 so there is minimal risk. The printing in Modern Masters greatly helped deflate the old price.
[cardimage cardname='Slaughter Pact'][cardimage cardname='Ad Nauseam']
Other Cards to Pick up - The Ad Nauseam deck seemed to be pretty popular at the GP (primarily because it's one of the cheaper combo decks). The key cards are still quite cheap and should it become really big, they will likely jump in price. These include Phyrexian Unlife and Angel's Grace.
[cardimage cardname='Phyrexian Unlife'][cardimage cardname="Angel's Grace"]
The planeswalker of choice for the RWU Control decks. This archetype will only grow as it has a high power level and game against just about every deck in the format. Ajani can be picked up easily for $7-7.5 online but at the venue site they were $11-15. The multiple printings will prevent the ceiling from being too high, but this card could easily be $15-16 during PTQ season.
Other Cards to Pick up - The other planeswalker in the deck is Gideon Jura ($4.50-$4.75). It has a low initial investment and both printings are mythic. Its biggest downside is that it's typically a one-of in the sideboard (for now).
[cardimage cardname='Ajani Vengeant'][cardimage cardname='Gideon Jura']
Anger of the Gods ($2.2) was another key addition to the deck, however coming from a Standard-legal set that will be heavily opened for the next six months keeps the ceiling pretty low.
Last but not least, Wrath of God, a long-time $8 card that only recently dropped to around $5 thanks to its Commander 2013 printing. The "can't be regenerated" clause becomes big because most of the green decks have adopted Thrun, the Last Troll to beat RWU (coming from someone who played RWU in the GP, take it from me Thrun is nigh imposible to get rid of.)
[cardimage cardname='Anger of the Gods'][cardimage cardname='Wrath of God']
This card shows up in a lot of Affinity lists. It's currently selling online for $7-8 but one vendor at the GP was buying them at $7 (thus it has a low spread). Its limited printing from M11 and in the Elspeth vs. Tezzeret duel deck mean that it will likely continue its upward trajectory as more players try to build Affinity.
Other Cards to Pick up - Most of the Affinity stuff has already jumped, but there's a strong chance that a little bit of profit is still available in cards like Etched Champion or Glimmervoid. Affinity's strong showing at the GP will further increase the demand for these cards.
[cardimage cardname='Etched Champion'][cardimage cardname='Glimmervoid']
The strong overall showing of G/B/x decks at the venue (but not in the top 16) caused a lot of people to try and pick this card up from my trade binders. There are several printings, including the most recent in Modern Masters.
Many have given it up due to Abrupt Decay's uncounterability and instant speed, but the increase in RWU control decks which have adopted Ajani Vengeant and Gideon Jura, as well as the green devotion decks playing higher-CMC cards, make a catch-all that can occasionally two-for-one someone an enticing option.
[cardimage cardname='Maelstrom Pulse'][cardimage cardname='Abrupt Decay']
Other Cards to Pick up - Abrupt Decay, while it often fights for the same spot as Pulse, shares the same color combination and is part of the removal package of choice for these G/B/x decks.
The increase in RWU control decks (and the continual fear of Faeries) has caused a demand for a difficult-to-answer threat in green. Playing RWU Control at the GP, I was knocked out due to a Thrun I just couldn't answer. Some control decks even adopted Wrath of God almost solely because of a fear this card. He hasn't had any real jump in price and is due for a spike should he continue to see play (even in sideboards).
Other Cards to Pick up - The decks that play Thrun tend to play cards already mentioned (Maelstrom Pulse, Abrupt Decay).
This card was in high demand at GP Richmond. Vendors were selling them at $12-13 each. There were a lot of people who audibled to Merfolk, believing it had a good matchup versus a lot of the field. However, looking at its current price on TCG Player it appears that the GP price wasn't much more than standard dealer-gouging at a major event.
[cardimage cardname='Cursecatcher'][cardimage cardname='Lord of Atlantis']
Other Cards to Pick up - Other Merfolk cards with more room to grow include Lord of Atlantis and more likely Master of the Pearl Trident. Aether Vial wouldn't be a terrible trade target but its current price tag of $20 and original printing at uncommon should mean the ceiling is nearly reached--it also got an FTV and MMA printing to help keep the price from skyrocketing.
This is the sideboard card of choice for combo decks against hand disruption. In addition the mono-white enchantment deck discussed by Patrick Chapin broke shortly before the GP and this enchantment was sold out almost everywhere. Unfortunately its current cost of $17 is a bit high for speculation given its limited use in most sideboards.
Other Cards to Pick up - Defense Grid is in a similar vein to Leyline. Whereas Leyline protects from hand disruption (and getting burned out), Defense Grid interferes with countermagic and limits players to casting spells (mainly) on their own turn. Defense Grid has had several printings, but it also sees a fair amount of Legacy play.
[cardimage cardname='Leyline of Sanctity'][cardimage cardname='Defense Grid']
The recent jump to $8 (from $2.50) might turn a lot of people off, but this could easily be a $14-15 card within the next year--especially if it doesn't get reprinted in anything and control decks continue to be a strong choice for pros. I would try to get this one only in trade though, as the buy-in price is high and the payoff is likely less than 60%.
This card first really broke out at GP Valencia in the Blue Moon deck--previously it was a sideboard card in U/R Twin decks as a way to disrupt the opponent's mana base long enough to combo off. The fact that so many Modern decks now run so few basic lands means that it's very good against a large portion of the field. Unfortunately the only similar cards are ones like Spreading Seas and/or Sea's Claim which only target individual lands.
[cardimage cardname='Blood Moon'][cardimage cardname='Fulminator Mage']
Other Cards to Pick up - A lot of decks have started playing Fulminator Mage and/or Tectonic Edge to disrupt the opponent's mana base. When this strategy is used, the ability to recur destroyed lands is invaluable, thus cards like Crucible of Worlds gain a lot of value. I used it in my RWU sideboard as a way to bring back Tectonic Edges and Celestial Colonnades, and other players brought it in (in the mirror) with the same idea.
[cardimage cardname='Crucible of Worlds'][cardimage cardname='Celestial Colonnade']